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ut Greek and Latin literature, not only to England, and thought of traversirg the great writers, but all the writers down Sicily
and Greece, those two homes of to the half of the middle age; and study ancient letters and arts. Of all the ing simultaneously ancient Hebrew, Syr- flowers that opened to the Southern iac and rabbinical Hebrew, French and sun under the influence of the two Spanish, old English literature, all the great Paganisms, he gathered freely Italian literature, with such zeal and the balmiest and the most exquisite, but profit that he wrote Italian and Latin without staining himself with the mud verse and prose like an Italian or a which surrounded them. “I call the Roman; in addition to this, music, Deity to witness," he wrote later, “that Mathematics, theology, and much be in all those places in which vice meets sides. A serious thought regulated with so little discouragement, and is this great toil. "The church, to whose practised with so little shame, I never Pervice, by the intentions of my parents once deviated from the paths of integ and friends, I was destined of a child, rity and virtue, and perpetually reflectand in mine own resolutions: till coming ed that, though my conduct might esto some maturity of years, and per- cape the notice of men, it could not ceiving what tyranny had invaded the elude the inspection of God.”* church, that he who would take orders Amid the licentious gallantries and must subscribe slave, and take an oath inane sonnets like those which the Ci. withal, which unless he took with a con- cisbei and Academicians lavished forth, science that would retch, he must either he retained his sublime idea of poetry : straight perjure, or split his faith ; I he thought to choose a heroic subject thought it better to prefer a blameless from ancient English history; and as silence before the sacred office of speak. he says, “ I was confirmed in this opin. ing bought, and begun with servitude ion, that he who would not be frusand forswearing." *
trate of his hope to write well hereafter He refused to be a clergyman from in laudable things, ought himself to be the same feelings that he had wished a true poem; that is, a composition it; the desire and the renunciation all and pattern of the best and honorablest sprang from the same source-a fixed things; not presuming to sing high resolve to act nobly. Falling back into praises of heroic men, or famous cities, the life of a layman, he continued to unless he have in himself the experience cultivate and perfect himself, studying and the practice of all that which is passionately and with method, but with praise-worthy.” † Above all, he loved out pedantry or rigor : nay, rather, Dante and Petrarch for their purity, after his master Spenser, in L'Allegro, telling himself that “if unchastity in a Il Penscroso, Comus, he set forth in woman, whom St. Paul terms the glory sparkling and variegated dress the of man, be such a scandal and diswealth of mythology, nature, and fancy; honor, then certainly in a man, who then, sailing for the land of science is both the image and glory of God, and beauty, he visited Italy, made the it must, though commonly not so acquaintance of Grotius and Galileo, thought, be much more deflouring and sought the society of the earned, the dishonorable." | He thought that men of letters, the men of the world, every free and gentle spirit, without listened to the musicians, steeped him that oath, ought to be born a knight," velf in all the beauties stored up by the for the practice and defence of chastity: Renaissance at Florence and Rome. and he kept himself virgin till his mar Everywhere his learning, his fine Ital- riage. Whatever the temptation might ian and Latin style, secured him the be, whatever the attraction or fear, it friendship and attentions of schoiars, found him equally opposed and equally Bo that, on his return to Florence, he was as well received as if he had re
* Milton's Prose Works (Bohn's edition,
1848), Second Defence of the People of Enga turned to his native country.”. He col- land, i. 257. See also his Italian Sonnets. lected books and music, which he sent with their religious sentiment.
† Milton's Prose Works, Mitford, Apolog • Milton's Prose Works, ed. Mitford, 8 for Smectymnuus, i. 270. vols., The Reason of Church Government, i. * Ibid. 273. See also his Treatise on Di
vorce, which shows clearly Miltor s meaning.
firm. From a sense of gravity and feel the solicitations and contradictions propriety he avoided all religious dis- of their surroundings. They have putes; but if his own creed were at- formed a model, and thenceforth this tacked, he defended it "without any model like a watchword restrains or reserve or fear,” even in Rome, before urges them on. Like all powers desthe Jesuits who plotted against him, tined to have sway, the inner idea within a few paces of the Inquisition grows and absorbs to its use the rest of and the Vatican. Perilous duty, in their being. They bury it in themselves stead of driving him away, attracted by meditation, they nourish it with rea him. When the Revolution began to soning, they put it in communication threaten, he returned, drawn by con- with the chain of all their doctrines and science, as a soldier who hastens to all their experiences ; sư that when a danger when he hears the clash of temptation assails them, it is not an is arms, convinced, as he himself tells us, lated principle which it attacks, brit if that it was a shame to him leisurely to encounters the whole combination of spend his life abroad, and for his own their belief, an infinitely ramified com. pleasure, whilst his fellow-countrymen bination, too strong for a sensuous were striving for their liberty. In seduction to tear asunder. At the same battle he appeared in the front ranks time a man by habit is upon his guard ; as a volunteer, courting danger every, the combative attitude is natural to him, where. Throughout his education and and he stands erect, firm in the pride throughout his youth, in his profane of his courage and the inveteracy of readings and his sacred studies, in his his determination. acts and his maxims, already a ruling A soul thus fortified is like a diver and permanent thought grew manifest in his bell ;* it passes through life as he -the resolution to develop and unfold passes through the sea, unstained but within him the ideal man.
isolated. On his return to England,
Milton fell back among his books, and II.
received a few pupils, upon whom he
imposed, as upon himself, continuous Two powers chiefly lead mankind- toil, serious reading, a frugal diet, a impulse and idea: the one influencing strict behavior ; the life of a recluse, al. sensitive, unfettered, poetical souls, most of a monk. Suddenly, in a month, capable of transformations, like Shak- after a country visit, he married. † A speare ; the other governing active, com- few weeks afterwards, his wife returned bative, heroic souls, capable of immu- to her father's house, would not come sability, like Milton. The first are sym- back to him, took no notice of his let. pathetic and effusive; the second are ters, and sent back his messenger with concentrative and reserved.* The first
The two characters had come give themselves up, the others with into collision. Nothing displeases hold themselves. These, by reliance women more than an austere and selfand sociability, with an artistic instinct contained character. They see that and a sudden imitative comprehension, they have no hold upon it; its dignity involuntarily take the tone and dispo- awes them, its pride repels, its pre; sition of the men and things which suro occupations keep them aloof; they feel sound them, and an immediate coun- themselves of less value, neglected for berpoise is effected between the inner general interests or speculative curiosi and the outer man. Those, by mistrust ties; judged, moreover, and that afte! and rigidity, with a combative instinct an inhexible rule ; at most regarded und a quick reference to rule, become with condescension, as a sort of less naturally thrown back apon themselves, reasonable and inferior beings, debarred and in their narrow limits no longer from the equality which they demand,
* “ Though Christianity had been but slightly and the love which alone can reward taught me, yet a certain reservedness of natu- them for the loss of equality. The ral disposition and moral discipline, leamt out of the noblest philosophy, was enough to keep * An expression of Jean Paul Richter. See we in disdain of far less incontinences than this an excellent article on Milton in the Nat. Re of the bordello."-Apology for Smectymnuus view, July, 1859. Mitsord, i. 372.
† 1643, at the age of 35.
“priest character is made for soli- parts of his domestic life were neithcı tude ; the tact, ease, charm, pleasant- better managed nor happier. He had ness, and gentleness necessary to all taken his daughters for secretaries, and companionship, is wanting to it; we made them read languages which they admire him, but we go no further, es- did not understand,-a repelling task, pecially if, like Milton's wife, we are of which they bitterly complained. Ir somewhat dull and commonplace, * return, he accused them of being "un adding mediocrity of intellect to the dutiful and unkind,” of neglecting him, repugnance of our hearts. He had, so not caring whether they left him alone, his biographers say, a certain gravity of conspiring with the servants to rob of nature, or severlty of mind which him in their purchases, of stealing his would not condescend to petty things, books, so that they would have dis but kept him in the clouds, in a region posed of the whole of them. Mary, which is not that of the household. the second, hearing one day that he He was accused of being harsh, chol- was going to be married, said that his eric; and certainly he stood upon his marriage was no news; the best news manly dignity, his authority as a hus- would be his death. An incredible band, and was not so greatly esteemed, speech, and one which throws a strange respected, studied, as he thought he light on the miseries of this family: deserved to be. In short, he passed Neither circumstances nor nature had the day amongst his books, and the created him for happiness. rest of the time his heart lived in an abstracted and sublime world of which
III. few wives catch a glimpse, his wife least of all. He had, in fact, chosen They had created him for strife, and like a student, so much the more at after his return to England he had random because his former life had thrown himself heartily into it, armed been of “a well-governed and wise with logic, anger, and learning, pro appetite.” Equally like a man of the tected by conviction and conscience closet, he resented her flight, being the When "the liberty of speech was no more irritated because the world's longer subject to control, all mouths ways were unknown to him. Without began to be opened against the bishdread of ridicule, and with the stern-ops. . . . I saw that a way was openness of a speculative man suddenly ing for the establishment of real liber. brought into collision with actual life, ty; that the foundation was laying for he wrote treatises on Divorce, signed the deliverance of man from the yoke them with his name, dedicated them of slavery and superstition; and to Parliament, held himself divorced as I had from my youth studied the disde facto, because his wife refused to re- tinction between religious and civil turn, de jure because he had four texts rights, . . . I determined to relinquish of Scripture for it; whereupon he paid the other pursuits in which I was encourt to another young lady, and sud- gaged, and to transfer the whole force denly, seeing his wife on her knees and of my talents and my industry to this weeping, forgave her, took her back, one important object.”* And thererenewed the dry and sad marriage-tie, upon he wrote his Reformation in not profiting by experience, but on England, jeering at and attacking with the other hand fated to contract two haughtiness and scorn the prelacy and other unions, the last with a wife thirty its defenders. Refuted and attacked years younger than himself. Other in turn, he secame still more bitter,
* Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Mit- and crushed those whom he had beatford, ü. 37, 29, 32, * Mute and spiritless en.f Transported to the limits of
e. The bashful muteness of the virgin may oftentimes hide all the unliveliness and • Second Defence of the People of England natural sloth which is really unfit for conversa
Prose Works (Bohn), i. 257.. “ A man shall find himself bound fast + Of Reformation touching Church Disci to an image of earth and phlegm, with whom he pline in England, and the Causes that hitherto looked to be the copartner of a sweet and glad- have hindered it. Of Prelatical Episcopacy, some societv.". A pretty woman will say in re- The Reason of Church Government urged ply: I car.not love a man who carries his head against Prelaty: 1641. A polno for Smar like the Sacrament.
tymnuus : 1642.
his creed, and like a anight making a | For what king's majesty sitting upod rush, and who pierces with a dash the an exalted throne, ever shone so whole line of battle, he hurled himself brigntly, as that of the people c. upon the prince, wrote that the aboli- England then did, when, shaking cft tion of royalty as well as the overthrow that old superstition, which had pre. of Episcopacy were necessary; and vailed a long time, they gave judgmeni one month after the death of Charles upon the king himself, or rather upco I., justified his execution, replied to an enemy who had been their king the Eikon Basilike, then to Salmasius' caught as it were in a net by his oww Defence of the King, with incomparable laws (who alone of all mortals 'aal treadth of style and scorn, like a sol. lenged to himself impunity by a d sine dier, like an apostle, like a man who right), and scrupled not to inflict the everywhere feels the superiority of same punishment upon him, being guit his science and logic, who wishes to ty, which he would have inflicted upon make it felt, who proudly tramples any other ?'”* After having justified upon and crushes his adversaries as the execution, he sanctified it; conseignoramuses, inferior minds, base crated it by decrees of heaven after he hearts.* Kings most commonly," he had authorized it by the laws of the says, at the beginning of the Eikono- world; from the support of Law he klastes, “thougħ strong in legions, are transferred it to the support of God. but weak at arguments; as they who This is the God who “ uses to throw ever have accustomed from their cra- down proud and unruly kings, . dle to use their will only as their right and utterly to extirpate them and al} hand, their reason always as their left. their family. By his manifest impulse Whence unexpectedly corstrained to being set on work to recover our althat kind of combat, they prove but most lost liberty, following him as our weak and puny adversaries.”+ Yet, guide, and adoring the impresses of for love of those who suffer themselves his divine power manifested upon all to be overcome by this dazzling name occasions, we went on in no obscure of royalty, he consents to "take up but an illustrious passage, pointed out King Charles's gauntlet," and bangs and made plain to us by God himself.”+ him with it in a style calculated to Here the reasoning ends with a song make the imprudent men who had of triumph, and enthusiasm breaks out thrown it down repent. Far from ra through the mail of the warrior. Such coiling at the accusation of murder, he * Ibid. Preface to the Defence of the People accepts and boasts of it. He vaunts of England, vi. pp. 1, 2. the regicide, sets it on a triumphal car,
† Mitford, vi. pp. 2-3..
This “Defence" decks it in all the light of heaven. He was in Latin, Milton ends it thus :
“He (God) has gloriously delivered you, the relates with the tone of a judge, “how first of nations, from the two greatest mischiefs a most potent king, after he had of this life, and most pernicious to virtue, tyrtrampled upon the laws of the nation, anny and superstition; he has endued you and given a shock to its religion, and kind, who after having conquered their own
with greatness of mind to be the first of manbegan to rule at his own will and king, and having had him delivered into their pleasure, was at last subdued in the hands, have not scrupled to condemn him judifield by his own subjects, who had cially, and, pursuant to that sentence of conandergone a long slavery under him; forming so glorious an action as this, you ouglat
demnation, to put him to death. After the perhow afterwards he was cast into pris- to do nothing that is mean and little, pot so on, and when he gave no ground, much as to think of, much less to do, anything either by words or actions, to hope bet- but what is great and sublime. Which to at
tain to, this is your only way; as you have ter things of him, was finally by the subdued your enemies in the field, so to make supreme council of the kingdom con- appear, that unarmed, and in the highest out demned to die, and beheaded before ward peace and tranquillity, vou . all mankind the very gates of the royal palace. ..
are best able to subdue ambition, a varice, the
love of riches, and can best avoid the corrup * The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates. tions that prosperity is apt to introduce (which Eikonoklastes: 1648-9. Defensio Populi Am generally subdue and triumph over other na. glicani: 1651. Defensio Secunda : 1654. Autions), to show as great justice, temperance, thoris pro se defensio. Responsio : 1655. and moderation in the maintaining your libera Milton's Prose Works, M ford, vol. - ty, as you have shown courage in freeing your
selves from slavery.”-Ibid. voi. vi. 251 -4.
he displayed himself in all his actions he advances from consequence in con and in all his doctrines. The solid sequence, trampling upon the prejudi files of bristling and well-ordered argu- ces, inclinations, habits, wants of men ments which he disposed in battle-ar- as if a reasoning or religious spiri ray were changed in his heart in the were the whole man, as if evidence almoment of triumph into glorious pro-ways created belief, as if belief always cessions of crowned and resplendent resulted in practice, as if, in the strug. hymns. He was transported by them, gle of doctrines, truth or justice gave hé deluded himself, and lived thus doctrines the victory and sovereignty. alone with the sublime, like a warrior. To cap all, he sketched out a treatise pontiff, who in his stiff armor, or his on education, in which he proposed to glittering, stole, stands face to face teach each pupil every science, every with truth. Thus absorbed in strife art, and, what is more, every virtue. and in his priesthood, he lived out of "He who had the art, and proper elo the world, as blind to palpable facts as quence might in a short space he was protected against the seduc- gain them to an incredible diligence tioris of the senses, placed above the and courage, . . infusing into their stains and the lessons of experience, young breasts such an ingenuous and as incapable of leading men as of noble ardor as would not fail to make yielding to them. There was nothing many of them renowned and matchless in him akin to the devices and delays men. Milton had taught for many of the statesman, the crafty schemer, years and at various times. A man who pauses on his way, experimental- must be insensible to experience or izes, with eyes fixed on what may turn doomed to illusions who retains such up, who
gauges what is possible, and deceptions after such experiences. employs logic for practical purposes. But his obstinacy constituted his Milton was speculative and chimerical. power, and the inner constitution, Locked up in his own ideas, he sees which closed his mind to instruction, but them, is attracted but by them. armed his heart against weaknesses. Is he pleading against the bishops? | With men generally, the source of de He would extirpate them at once, votion dries up when in contact with life. without hesitation; he demands that Gradually, by dint of frequenting the the Presbyterian worship shall be at world, we acquire its tone. We do not once established, without forethought, choose to be dupes, and to abstain from contrivance, hesitation. It is the com- the license which others allow themmand of God, it is the duty of the selves; relax our youthful strictness faithful ; beware how you trifle with we even smile, attributing it to our heat God or temporize with faith. Concord, ed blood; we know our own motives, and gentleness, liberty, piety, he sees a cease to find ourselves sublime. We whole swarm of virtues issue from end by taking it calmly, and we see the this new worship. Let the king tear world wag, only trying to avoid shocks, nothing from it, his power will be all picking up here and there a few little the stronger. Twenty thousand demo comfortable pleasures. Not so Milton cratic assemblies will take care that He lived complete and pure to the end, his rights be not infringed. These without loss of neart or weakness ; exdeas make us smile. We recognize perience could not instruct nor misfor, be party-man, who, on the verge of tune depress him; he endured all, and che Restoration, when “the whole repented of nothing: He lost his sight nul:itude was mad with desire 'for a by his own fault, writing, though king,” published A Ready and Easy ilí, and against the prohibition of his Way to establish a Free Commonwealth, doctors, to justify the English people und described his method at length. against the 'invectives of Salmasius. We recognize the theorist who, to ob- He saw the funeral of the Republic, tain a law of divorce, only appealed to the proscription of his doctrines, the Scripture, and aimed at transforming defamation of his honor. Around him the civil constitution of a people by ran riot, a distaste for liberty, a. ep changing the accepted sense of a verse. thusiasm for slavery. A whole people W.th closed eyes, sa cred text in hand, * Of Education. Mitford, ü. 385.